The debate over whether to rent or own is as old as housing itself. Are the extra costs of home ownership worth it? Should you throw your money away every month with nothing to show for it? If you are smack in the middle of this debate, here are a few things to push you off the white picket fence.
You catch the landlord rooting through your stuff
You stay home sick one day from work and look out in the yard to see your landlord digging through your trash can. Or you come home from work early one day to see your landlord exiting your apartment and when you ask him about it, he says he was “fixing the plumbing.” That’s weird, because nothing is wrong with your plumbing. Hmmm. If you need a bit more privacy, or at least the peace of mind that no one else has an extra set of keys to your home, it might be time to buy.
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You want to decorate your bedroom in something other than wallpaper from the ’50s
As much as you love the festive mushrooms of varying sizes that cover the walls of your bedroom, you’d really like to rip the dated wallpaper down and decorate in a way that is a bit less reminiscent of fungi. If you are itching to join hands with Martha Stewart and paint the walls, it may be time to buy a home.
Banks are practically paying you to borrow money
Okay, so that is a bit of an exaggeration. But mortgage rates are at record lows. Zillow Mortgage Marketplace director Erin Lantz said the mortgage rate has remained historically low and has been hovering between 3.65 percent and 3.7 percent (at the end of January). This makes mortgage payments more affordable, and for some, that translates to more buying power. Crunch the numbers with a trusted lender to help you determine if it might be time to buy a home.
You’re craving a furry friend
Your parents keep breathing down your neck about when you and your new spouse are going to grace the family with grandkids. The betta fish on top of the TV seems to be faring well, but you’d like to graduate to a more serious pet (like a cat or a dog) before branching into child rearing. Many rentals don’t allow pets. Ones that do often charge so much for a pet deposit that having a baby actually seems more fiscally responsible. Your house, your pets. If you need something cute and furry to greet you at the end of the day, it may be time to buy.
You need the tax deduction
You don’t have any kids, and those t-shirts you keep hauling to Good Will aren’t getting you much love from Uncle Sam. The interest on a mortgage is a sweet little deduction, and for the time being, still available. Property taxes, according to the IRS website, are also deductible. If you’re making enough money that you need to start looking for larger tax deductions, it’s probably time to consider buying a home.
Real estate isn’t getting any cheaper
The bad news is our country has suffered a major foreclosure crisis. The good news is that it has created a buyer’s market through abundant inventory and reduced prices. A recent survey of about 1,000 Re-Max realtors found that 39 percent of agents think prices have hit bottom in their market, while almost three-fourths of agents think home prices in their markets will have stopped declining by the end of 2012. There is a school of thought within the real estate community that things have nowhere to go but up. If you have been thinking about buying, this may be the perfect time.
Rentals are often not the cheaper option
The foreclosure crisis sent people from their homes to rental properties in droves. For this reason, many cities have seen the cost of rent go through the, um, roof. If you are paying close to or more than you suspect a mortgage might cost, it might be time to buy a home. Unless setting piles of money on fire with nothing left to show for it appeals to you.